IT'S EASY TO GET LOST in the lush forests that cover the jagged topography of Skamania County, Washington. Dense ferns crowd the shadowy ground, coniferous trees stretch above, and any attempt to retain one's bearings are quickly thwarted by the unpredictable hills, valleys, and deep, unexpected canyons. Thin strands of light filter through the treetop canopy, serving only to demonstrate how unknowable this terrain is. However practical or cynical one might be, it is impossible not to gaze into those impenetrable green shadows and wonder what might be lurking there—or what might be gazing back, with violent rage in its eyes, the seductive scent of man-blood thick in its murderous nostrils.
YOU DO THE MATH
The scientific and financial benefits to studying and dissecting an actual Bigfoot corpse would be astronomical. That's not even adding in the profits from a best-selling book, the inevitable TV movie rights, the worldwide fame and admiration, the Letterman appearance. It's an undeniable fact: The rewards a Sasquatch Slayer receives after emerging from the woods with a dead Bigfoot tied to his car hood is an attractive package indeed.
I resolved to kill Bigfoot, and I wasn't about to let Skamania County Ordinance No. 1984-2 stop me.
SAVING THE "GIANT HAIRY APE"
The woods of Skamania County have had more than their share of Bigfoot sightings. In 1969, Skamania's Board of Commissioners passed Ordinance 69-01, stating that "Éthere is evidence to indicate the possible existence in Skamania County of a nocturnal primate mammal variously described as an ape-like creature or a sub-species of Homo Sapian [sic]—this creature is generally and commonly known as 'Sasquatch,' 'Yeti,' 'Bigfoot,' or 'Giant Hairy Ape.'"
What concerned the Board were the swarms of amateur Bigfoot hunters that started flocking to the county. Suggesting the "influx of scientific investigators as well as casual hunters, many armed with lethal weapons" constituted "a clear and present threat to the safety and well-being of persons living or traveling within the boundaries of Skamania County as well as to the creatures themselves," the Board asserted that "any premeditated, wilful [sic] and wonton [sic] slaying of any such creature shall be deemed a felony punishable by a fine not to exceed Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) and/or imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed Five (5) years."
According to the Skamania County Reporter, Prosecutor Bob Leick realized in 1984 the county had exceeded its jurisdictional authority by making this crime a felony. The ordinance was then revisited—now it's only a misdemeanor, the fine has been lowered to $1,000, and any jail time has been capped at a year. Skamania County Ordinance No. 1984-2 also "created a Sasquatch Refuge, the boundaries of which shall be co-extensive with the boundaries of Skamania County."
Ordinance 1984-2 was passed on April 2 of that year, nearly 15 years to the day that the original ordinance passed—April 1, 1969. The Skamania County Pioneer reported that Commissioner Conrad Lundy Jr. insisted in 1969 that the date was purely coincidental: "This is not an April Fool's Day joke. There is reason to believe such an animal exists."
I weighed all of the benefits of killing Bigfoot against the meager penalties of Ordinance No. 1984-2. The $1,000 fine? Pocket change considering how much the Smithsonian would pay for a displayable specimen. The year in Skamania County's jail? Easy, after I instilled the fear and respect a Sasquatch Slayer deserves into my cell mates.
Yes. The math worked out in my favor.
According to most reports, Bigfoot is between seven and 14 feet tall and weighs anywhere from 300-800 pounds. After thinking it through, I realized I might have a hard time taking him down alone. I therefore enlisted the help and hunting expertise of my associate, Mr. Miles Evans.
We traveled on I-84 out of Portland, took the Hood River exit, crossed the Columbia River, and headed up Washington State Highway 14 to Cook-Underwood Road. After ignoring several "No Trespassing" signs and meandering up some abandoned logging roads, we found ourselves deep in Bigfoot country within two hours. As we set up camp, Miles and I noted several conclusions could be drawn according to our observations of Bigfoot:
OBSERVATION: Bigfoot has been seen many times, often by people who tried to shoot him. Statistically, at least one of those shots should have hit Bigfoot—yet he has not been killed. CONCLUSION: Bigfoot probably has bulletproof skin. Guns would therefore be useless. Miles' Louisville Slugger, however, should catch the creature unawares.
OBSERVATION: In the film Harry and the Hendersons, Bigfoot (or "Harry") is a vegetarian. Harry also plays the feel-good card, with Harry portrayed as Alf's retarded big brother. In the direct-to-video thriller Sasquatch, on the other hand, Bigfoot is a bloodthirsty killer of nubile coeds, and he looks like the offspring of one of those hicks from Deliverance and a werewolf. Importantly, Sasquatch is purportedly based on real events, while Harry and the Hendersons is not. CONCLUSION: Bigfoot lusts for the sweet, sweet taste of human blood, but he'll take other types of meat—say, Oscar Meyer bologna—when nubile teens aren't available.
OBSERVATION: Bigfoot hunter Ronald Knapp, of the Washington Bigfoot Research Group, tells me via email that he's got some good "scream returns" from the vicinity in which we'll be camping. ("Scream returns" are when hunters who have supposed recordings of Bigfoot calls play them into the wild, aiming to get other Bigfeet to call back.) CONCLUSION: Lacking actual Bigfoot recordings of my own, I record Chewbacca's howls from The Empire Strikes Back with a portable tape recorder.
After setting up camp, we headed into the thick woods bordering our campsite. We unwrapped the bologna and laid piece after piece in a line which would eventually lead our quarry over a hill, down a dried creek bed, across a small clearing, and right to our campsite. On the fringes of our site we set the big payoff—an entire package of bologna, subtly placed in the center of a noose. An hour later, I sat in a lawn chair ten feet from said noose, holding the rope in one hand, a beer in the other, with the Louisville Slugger within easy reach. Miles sat behind the tent, in another chair, with another beer, ready to lunge with his broken Weinhard's bottle if the situation called for such a measure.
I waited, breath held. Bigfoot would lope out of the thick brush, make a play for the bologna, and I would pull the noose tight, swing hard, and crush Bigfoot's Neanderthallic head with the bat. Cue Miles, who would leap—like a cat—from behind the tent, scurry onto Bigfoot's hairy back, and slash Bigfoot's throat as I continued my bludgeoning.
Sasquatch, your ass would soon be mine.
PROOF (OR, C'MON WHO DOESN'T LIKE BOLOGNA?)
Twilight encroached, then evening fell, but neither brought any sign of the great beast. And while we didn't actually see Bigfoot, that doesn't mean he wasn't there—in the darkness, a multitude of sounds echoed throughout the forest: strange hoots, and weird chitterings, but most importantly, an ominous, eerie wailing. It was a shriek that was at once mournful and enraged, lonely and terrible. Miles—who said he was tired, and didn't even really listen that hard—claimed it was just the wind. Something told me, however, it came from a bipedal creature, presumably between 7-14 feet tall, probably weighing anywhere from 300-800 pounds.
The next morning, Miles and I hiked back into the forest, only to find that Bigfoot hadn't even touched the bologna—now greenish brown and surrounded by hornets. Either Bigfoot was too scared of the hornets to eat the bologna—not likely—or he doesn't like bologna at all. But c'mon—who doesn't like bologna?
No one. No one dislikes bologna, and for all the times I've watched Croc Hunter, I have yet to hear of a forest creature who wouldn't gorge themselves stupid on any food—especially bologna—left out in the woods. The fact that the bologna remained can only mean one thing: Bigfoot was there, in the woods, just out of sight, fending other creatures away from the processed sweetmeat while waiting to eat the bounty until we had left his territory. He had seen us lay our trap, and was too wily to fall for it.
We had, perhaps, underestimated the primal instincts and carnivorous cunning of the Giant Hairy Ape.
JUST BECAUSE WE DIDN'T FIND AND KILL BIGFOOT DOESN'T MEAN HE DOESN'T EXIST, YOU NAYSAYING BASTARD
While it wasn't in the dead, foul-smelling, hairy, possibly mutilated form that I'd originally intended, Bigfoot's existence was proven on that warm summer night in Skamania County. For how else can you explain the uneaten bologna?
"The North American Bigfoot or Sasquatch has a lot going for it," researcher John Napier writes in his book, Bigfoot. "Too many people claim to have seen it or at least to have seen footprints to dismiss its reality out of hand."
Damn straight, researcher John Napier. And I won't be happy until I limp out of the dusky woods of Skamania County, 800-pound Bigfoot carcass in tow, and force the law-enforcement of Skamania County to make me to pay that fine and serve that time. For then, I will be a hero, a true Sasquatch Slayer, and any attempts to dismiss Bigfoot's reality out of hand will be met with my foul-smelling, hairy, and probably mutilated proof.